Conquer, or Be Conquered
The city was in chaos - beautiful, blissful chaos - by the time we reached the estate. House del Dega was under attack, and by the plumes of smoke billowing around, it seemed like the siege was still fresh. An excellent time to arrive.
We were sucked into the moment by Claire, who was shiny in a suit of armour. What a time to be alive! This young one might yet have the chance to see some combat. We asked about the logistics of this particular scenario - seems like house Pyriceeni has brought on the Black Bell to turn the tides in the fight for Malkara. Carson’s fingerprint didn’t seem to be on this nonsense, but I was confident that he would be very pleased with open warfare between the noble houses. Less eyes on the Tong’s operations.
We reunited with the other members of the TIP, which was very strange. Both Rinn and Ake vanished without a trace after the battle with the shadow dragon. I hoped to reach out to Ake, perhaps even Hansur, to divine some information to share with the others, but with J as protective as she was and the others behaving erratically, I decided against it. Rinn noticed my transformation immediately; they were very pleased to see me in a good state. I beamed and made small talk with my old friend as the other elements of the scene were set.
Seeing the house del Dega through this new perspective put a few things in light for me. For one, they were well connected. The Paladin Danger was within their ranks, along with a number of scholar-wizards. I couldn’t tell if they were war-wizards or some from the University, but this rock that we had secured for them had serious implications. A crashing at the gates prevented me from looking more into it; it seemed like the dogs had broken in.
I scrambled to action with the rest of the T.I.P., grabbing a set of chainmail procured from the armoury. After the encounter with Hansur, I felt like my body behaved less innately to strikes - the dragon bit into me in ways that my old self would have deftly avoided. The Oath’s calling had reshaped me in more ways than I originally thought, it seemed. The chain didn’t fit well but would at least provide a barrier against something bladed, so it had to do in this pinch.
Dorian darted away with Victoria as we charged to face the threat. Later we would describe the heroic action of saving the young son of the noblewoman, but I still have trouble believing that. Dorian was defined by his cowardice, and this was a perfect opportunity to showcase his true colours. Mine were different.
The main hall of the house featured an iron golem whose form loomed heavily. Rubble scattered throughout the formerly opulent space, and the fragrance of blood wafted through the air. Black Bell mercenaries burst into the space; a motley crew of black tabards and cloaks. I invoked a blessing to strike fast and true through these villains, then sought to secure the broken door. Standing before me was another touched as I had been, only by another force. He crackled with baleful light - purple flecks escaping his repugnant body. This was a chosen of Nurzhan, a false conqueror if I had ever laid eyes upon one.
I had been ignorant while following Narcel’Uss and her ambitions to wrest power for her invocation of the Conqueror. Divine power was something to fear, and I did so dutifully. But things change. Things always do.
Between Dorian’s game impersonating a chosen of a patsy of the Ivory Throne and Narcel’Uss’s plot to seek forbidden power, I was sandwiched within the machinations of the divine estate for some time. Being pulled and prodded around wasn’t nice, and I can forgive family for doing so. Nurzhan is not family.
My brief encounter with Hansur showed me a realm of potential. There is certainty to the Void - damn the Thrones and their establishments and shackles! In a world cleansed of magic, I was given a boon and there might yet be a time where I will have the chance to stare the new God in the eye, then cut it down to welcome some truth into the world.
“Die.” I told the person before me, and it would soon be so.
The Paladin before me radiated Nurzhan’s influence, and took that influence to shape in his heavy blade. He used it to strike me down, but I did not waver. Catching the blade would leave an opening to exploit. Beautiful pain exploded in me and served as a reminder of times long past, but I had to focus on the opportunity. I invoked the Void and it wrapped around my anchor, and I delivered a decisive strike on my adversary. He screamed and howled, and I could see his aura react in shrill violence against the transgression.
Your avatar is weak, like you.
Before he could react I turned and struck upwards, spilling him out as I turned to the rogue that had been flanking me. The life vanished from his eyes for but a moment, but the brief husk before us was filled by a prayer by a priest in the background. The lucky bastard! I reached out to remove his soul once again, but the rogue struck and interrupted my timing. The cowards used their chance to get away, but my pursuit would be thwarted by the entrance of another. The fight behind me was concluding, and another holy avatar of the throne emerged.
Danger appeared under the drapings of another of the Ivory Throne. Serik’s just nature shone like a lighthouse beacon. The rank smell of the room disappeared, consecrating the space as the other Black Bell lackeys were dispatched. How did this happen? I reached inward to see if I could grab something from my own Oath that would resemble this - nothing responded. The geode must be acting like a locus for Serik’s divine influence. I didn’t realize this was the power of that stone. Danger strained against the will of his Influencer - poor soul. He is a martyr to this abomination - a good man turned a slave to the Throne. A true prophet to a false God.